Saturday, 5 October 2013

Scholars met some of Coal Creek’s heroes today, including Dick Drummond, Rees R. Thomas and his son David, as well as Powell Harmon and his son Condy.  

On Saturday, October 5, 2013, two new historical markers were installed at the Briceville Public Library.  That makes 19 markers installed by Coal Creek Scholars since 2010.

Six Coal Creek scholars showed up on this foggy October morning to assist with the installation of two historical markers at the new Briceville Public Library adjacent to Briceville School.  These six students earned community service credit towards our scholarships!

For us, the story behind the marker “The Welsh in Coal Creek” began on a history field trip when we came across the headstone of Rees R. Thomas, which said he was born in Carmarthen, South Wales.  Dr. Eirug Davies of Harvard University learned of our discovery and visited us as shown at

Tallen Rolden, Chad Whitaker and Paul Long mix
Sakcrete to stabilize post

That began a decade-long journey that culminated in the publication of Dr. Davies’ book, “The Welsh of Tennessee.”  Dr. Davies started his book tour last year at Briceville Church, which Welsh miners built in 1888, by presenting a lecture to Briceville students as described at

We’ve known much of the story behind “The Legacy of Condy Harmon” for many years.  Powell Harmon wrote a farewell letter before he suffocated in the Fraterville Mine after it exploded in 1902 as described at  In his letter, he said, “My boys, never work in the coal mines.”  Contrary to his father’s advice, Condy Harmon became a miner and perished after the Cross Mountain Mine exploded in Briceville in 1911.

We learned the rest of the story during the Cross Mountain Mine Centennial Service as described at  Descendants of Powell Harmon told us how Condy is their hero for the sacrifices he made for his family.


We can think of no better place to honor those Coal Creek heroes than in front of the new Briceville Public Library.

Level-girl Drew Payne making sure we have the posts straight.

Will work for Krispy Kremes, bandanas... and Coal Creek Scholarships!

Johnny Pitt, Jerry Owens, and Mark Mowery from the
Norris Dam State Park augered our holes for us!

HUGE THANK YOU to Mark Morgan and the Norris Dam State Park muscle men for augering the post holes for us.  Saved us lots of time and sore muscles!

Visit the beautiful park and check out their web page at


The beautiful markers were produced by
the southwell co.
in San Antonio, Texas


After installing the markers, the scholars hiked a leg of the abandoned railroad from Briceville to Drummond Bridge.  One of the options being considered by Anderson County officials is to make it into a rails-to-trails from the Cross Mountain Mine in Briceville to the old Train Depot in the town of Coal Creek (now Lake City).

Coal Creek Scholars stand under Drummond Bridge with Barry Thacker standing
on rails above where Dick Drummond was hung

The scholars had visited the bridge when they were fourth and fifth graders, but now they are older and wiser.  The thrill was still there, though, when they climbed out on the bridge to see the notch marking the spot where Dick Drummond was lynched.

Although they still stood spell-bound while hearing the ghost story about Dick Drummond at, they no longer believe in ghosts… or do they? 

Emily Patton & Seth Taylor looking up from where
Dick Drummond was hung from the railroad.

Can you see the ghost of Dick Drummond alongside the bridge from which he was hung in the photo to the right?  Look closely to see the notch in the rail. You can hear Dick's ghost on dark foggy nights.

L to R:  Seth Taylor, Chad Whitaker, Drew Payne,
Paul Long, Tallen Roldan & Barry Thacker

Strike a pose while you show off your amazing work!

Seth Taylor, Drew Payne, Paul Long, Barry Thacker,
Chad Whitaker, Tallen Roldan

Barry Thacker's back with Chad Whitaker, Tallen Roldan,
Drew Payne and Emily Patton

Seth Taylor, Drew Payne and Paul Long
assist Barry Thacker

L to R:  Tallen Roldan, Drew Payne, Barry Thacker,
Paul Long, Chad Whitaker & Seth Taylor

On Saturday, November 9th, we
will hike the railroad bed from
Drummond Bridge to the
abandoned Fraterville Mine.

L to R:  Carol Moore, Seth Taylor and Drew Payne


Rhonda Boone-Shafer
Joe Leinart
Paul Long
Carol Moore
Drew Payne
Emily Patton
Lisa Pyle
Tallen Roldan
Ty Seiber
Seth Taylor
Barry Thacker
Chad Whitaker


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